School entries are being accepted for the seventh annual Arkansas Grown School Garden of the Year Contest. The contest runs through Sunday, Sept. 13, according to a news release.


The project is sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. Applicants may be any Arkansas school, grades pre-K through 12, that had a school garden open during the 2019-2020 school year, or any school planning to start a garden in the 2020-2021 school year.


“School gardens have proven to be an effective way to help students develop healthy eating habits, while also learning about science, math, and agriculture, Arkansas’s largest industry,” said Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture. “We value our partnership with Farm Credit and appreciate their generosity in providing the funds for the awards.”


James McJunkins is the Farm Credit Midsouth president and chief executive officer.


“As a farmer-owned cooperative, we are excited to continue our support of teachers and projects that engage Arkansas students in food production and agricultural sustainability,” McJunkins said on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas. “Through these partnerships, we can ensure that the valuable role of Arkansas agriculture remains top-of-mind for the next generation.”


The 2020 contest has a new category, “Champion of Sustaining School Garden,” where schools which have previously won in a category can be awarded for their continued development and sustainability.


Applicants from public and private K-12 schools, early care facilities, and alternative learning environments are eligible to apply for the following categories:


• Best School Garden Start-up Proposal - $500;


• Best Harvest Partnership Garden - $500;


• Best Education Based Garden - $500;


• Best Community Collaboration Garden - $500;


• Overall School Garden Winner - $1,000;


• Champion of Sustaining School Garden - $1,000.


The deadline to enter is Sept. 13. Winners will be announced at the Farm to School Celebration in October. Online entry forms and program requirements are available at http://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/aad-programs.